Those in the trucking supply chain thinking they saw the last of Anne S. Ferro are going to be disappointed.
Ferro, who steps down as the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) by the end of the month, will become president and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). For those unfamiliar with the group's functions, its members are responsible for the issuance of commercial driver's licenses (CDLs), and it provides them with best-practice guidelines, training programs, and operational guidance to support those efforts. AAMVA also runs the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) that enables states to ensure that each commercial driver has only one license and one complete driver record.
In other words, Ferro remains very much in the game.
The day of her July 17 resignation announcement, several major transportation groups took the opportunity to laud her efforts at FMCSA. That's because: a) it's what you do, and b) she'll still be working with them. American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves said his group, which represents mostly larger trucking firms, "look[s] forward to working with her" on CDL-related issues and called Ferro a "passionate advocate" for the FMCSA. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) President Jim Johnston, who six weeks prior had asked Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to request Ferro's resignation on grounds of bias against the industry, lauded her for "having unprecedented personal outreach and engagement with truckers in all the years that we have worked with the agency." Robert Voltmann, president of the Transportation Intermediaries Association, which represents brokerage-based third-party logistics service providers, called her "one of the most fair and open of FMCSA administrators. While we have not always seen eye to eye," he added, "Administrator Ferro has always been receptive to the opinions of others."
The announcement ends Ferro's controversial five-and-a-half year tenure as the head of the Department of Transportation's subagency that regulates the safety of the nation's commercial truck and bus fleets. During her time, FMCSA implemented two of the most controversial rules in the industry's history: CSA 2010, a grading system for drivers and carriers, and new policies governing a driver's hours of service, which reduced the length of a driver's workweek and significantly changed the traditional rules regarding rest breaks and when a driver could return to the road.
Critics of both rules said they are examples of well-intentioned legislative overreach that have increased liability risk for the entire supply chain and reduced the productivity of the country's truck fleets.
Ferro's announcement came a day after FMCSA announced changes in the information displayed on the public Safety Measurement System (SMS) website. SMS tries to identify high-risk truckers by gathering performance data from accident investigations or roadside inspections and then grading the carriers by calculating their violation rates and comparing them with similar carriers over a matrix of seven categories, known by the acronym BASICs.
One of the key changes will be to summarize a carrier's BASIC status to better clarify whether its performance in the individual BASICs causes it to be prioritized for an FMCSA intervention, FMCSA said. The site changes will not alter the agency's methodology or affect a carrier's safety rating, the agency said. However, it should provide the industry and safety advocates with performance data that is more comprehensive, informative, and regularly updated, the agency added.
The enhancements are to be implemented on Aug. 2.
This article was updated on July 30, 2014.